Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Ultimate Veggie Burger – Thai Style

A couple of weeks ago an Irish friend was in town on St Patrick’s day. Somehow this event has passed me by until now and I’ve never understood its significance beyond drinking a lot. And I still don’t because by the time I got round to asking him to explain it to me, I’d already drunk too much and now can’t remember. Something about snakes and a bloke who it turns out was actually English.

I don’t normally hang out in the farang (foreign) pubs and bars in Bangkok – I’m far too much of a snob for that, I'm all about the trendy rooftop bars. But I was warmed by my friend’s patriotism and nostalgia, and so was more than happy to get into the spirit of things, don a green t-shirt and tour the Irish pubs, which that night were bursting at the seams.

Experience has taught me that endurance on a big night out relies on a good feed beforehand so I took responsibility for feeding our party. Among us was a vegetarian.  I have made my feelings on vegetarianism clear in other blog posts: I am an ex-veggie, slightly ashamed that I abandoned the cause (though not that ashamed when faced with pork belly) and determined that no vegetarian should ever feel like a second class diner in my home. So I decided that we would fuel up with a vegetarian meal, as hearty and Guinness-absorbing as any meat feast.

Friends tucking into the burgers around my table
I have had mixed experiences with making veggie burgers in the past because it’s difficult to make them firm enough but still tasty. But I’m pretty sure I’ve cracked it with this recipe. This burger is, if I do say so myself, quite simply epic. It’s scrumptious, firm, filling, easy to make and really nutritious too. And put to the ultimate test, it saw us through a full night of Paddy’s Day fun, see:

Taken in Irish pub #4 of the night: O'Reilly's in Sala Daeng

I served the burger with the same accompaniments and garnishes as I did the Thai burger, only I didn’t have sweet potatoes so I used normal ones instead (fitting, given the Irish theme).

Time: 45 minutes
Rating: Easy, just a bit of chopping.
Serves: Makes 6 - They will keep very well in the freeze if you don’t need the whole batch at once


225g firm tofu, finely chopped
1 aubergine (about 250g)
100g shitake mushrooms
1 carrot
60g Breadcrumbs (you can make this from about 1-2 slices wholemeal bread)
80g cashew nuts
1 egg
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves,
1 stick lemongrass
1 inch knob ginger
2 small red chillis
1 bunch coriander
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2tbs flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil for cooking

Sweet chilli sauce
Garlic and lime mayo
Slices of cucumber (pickled if you like), onion, tomato


  1. Start by very finely chopping the mushrooms and aubergine, so they’re about ½ centimetre cubed. Fry them in a wok or pan with a little vegetable and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce until they are soft all the way through. Don’t be tempted to add any more liquid, you need them to be dry so they don’t make the burgers soggy. When they are done, set them aside to cool.
  2. Prepare all of your other ingredients: Finely pound the cashews in a food processor or mortar and pestle – you should have a fine powder with a few lumps for texture. Chop the tofu into small pieces about the same size as the aubergines and mushrooms. Finely grate the carrot. Finely chop the onion, garlic, chilli, coriander, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Take time to do this properly – large chunks won’t be pleasant. The lemongrass and lime leaves are particularly tough and you should chop these as finely as you can. For the chillies, leave the seeds in (finely chopped) if you want them spicy, remove if not.
  3. Combine all of the burger ingredients into a large bowl and combine with your hands. Then divide the mixture into six and form into large patties. It should be a nice firm mixture but if not add a few more breadcrumbs and a bit more flour
  4. Heat a frying pan or griddle pan with a little oil over a medium heat and gently place the burgers in the pan. After 3-4 minutes turn over and cook for 3-4 minutes on both sides. Turn over again and cook for another 2 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve in the buns with the sauces and other garnishes.

Cooking ahead? You can make these a day in advance and keep them in the fridge, or well ahead and freeze, defrosting several hours before cooking.


  1. Oh this sounds delicious! Great idea to infuse Thai flavors into veggie burgers.

  2. Looks great! I've nominated you for a versatile blogger award, come on over and check it out:

    1. Thank you - you've made my Sunday morning! Coming over to visit right now...